August 29, 2015

IBM collaborates with GENCI on exascale computing

IBM and GENCI, the high performance computing agency in France, today announced a collaboration aimed at speeding up the path to exascale computing – the ability of a computing system to perform at least one exaflop, or a billion billion calculations, in one second.

Currently the fastest systems in the world perform between ten and 33 petaflops, or ten to 33 million billion calculations per second – roughly one to three percent the speed of exascale. Put into context, if exascale computing is the equivalent of an automobile reaching 1000 miles per hour, today’s fastest systems are running within a range between ten and 33 miles per hour.

The collaboration, planned to run for at least 18 months, focuses on readying complex scientific applications for systems under development expected to achieve more than 100 petaflops, a solid step forward on the path to exascale. Working closely with supercomputing experts from IBM, GENCI will have access to some of the most advanced high performance computing technologies stemming from the rapidly expanding OpenPOWER ecosystem. Supported by more than 140 OpenPOWER Foundation members and thousands of developers worldwide, the OpenPOWER ecosystem includes a wide variety of computing solutions that use IBM’s licensable and open POWER processor technology.

As part of the collaboration, GENCI will closely examine the impact and requirements of POWER’s open architecture on scientific applications, intending to foster a deeper understanding of application requirements as the computing industry advances towards exascale computing with an increased interest in accelerator technologies.

The collaboration will attempt to take full advantage of the impact of OpenPOWER-based innovations such as the connection of NVIDIA GPUs accelerators to POWER processors through the high-speed NVIDIA® NVLink™ interconnect, as well as how Mellanox EDR 100Gb/s InfiniBand switches can exploit IBM’s Coherent Application Processor Interface (CAPI) to dramatically improve solution performance. Additionally, experts from GENCI and French research organizations together with IBM plan to work on understanding the evolution of programming models, considering MPI and OpenMP as a first step for shared memory multiprocessing programming. Alternative application program interfaces will also be considered, given potential changes may be required as systems move closer toward exascale.

“If we want to continue to address the challenges of the French scientists and engineers, we need to anticipate the rise of new high performance computing architectures that bring us closer to exascale and prepare our communities,” stated Catherine Riviere, CEO of GENCI.

IBM will provide dedicated technical experts to support application porting and optimization efforts as well as organizing along with GENCI education and porting sessions. This collaboration will be supported by the newly created POWER Acceleration and Design Center in Montpellier as part of the partnership established with both NVIDIA and Mellanox. The Center will provide technical expertise around scientific applications, programming models and systems, as well as early access to forthcoming 2016 platforms and the latest innovative technologies (NVIDIA NVLink, IBM CAPI), the IBM high performance computing (HPC) software stack and the NVIDIA Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform.

“The work we are doing with GENCI -- bringing together some of the best minds in science and information technology – is a collaborative effort on a grand scale involving not just GENCI and IBM, but thousands of developers contributing to the rapidly expanding OpenPOWER ecosystem worldwide,” said Michel Teyssedre, CTO of IBM France. “We fully expect our collaborative efforts will produce innovations capable of moving the supercomputing industry that much closer to exascale.”

About GENCI –

Created in 2007 by the French government with the aim of placing France among the leading countries within Europe and on the international stage in the field of HPC, GENCI has three main missions:

· To lead the French national strategy in terms of HPC capacities for the benefit of public researchers in link with the three national computing centers;
· To participate in the realization of an integrated European HPC ecosystem;
· To promote numerical simulation and HPC, within the academic and industrial communities.

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